Creating Habits and Making Them Stick

Watch Those Small Things Become Big Things

Sometimes making new healthy habits can seem insurmountable. I know, I have made some changes in my life that I never thought possible. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen, and that’s what’s important. An example is that I used to hate blueberries. Yes, crazy! But I grew up on a farm that had many bushes, and I just never could make myself like them. As I got older, I learned how healthy they were for you, so I decided I wanted to like them. At first, I put frozen blueberries in morning smoothies. That was actually really good! I continued with the blueberries-in-breakfast routine … and fast forward … Now, I can eat them right off the bush. Although it took some time, I did it!

There are many examples of small changes, like blueberries in your breakfast, that produce those big impacts. Even looking at the natural world, we see numerous examples, like acorns turning into majestic oak trees. I like that visual, because today’s doable purposeful decisions—which often become healthy habits—create long-term positive change.


Check out (and try!) these quick changes to improve your long-term well-being:

  • Replace one soft drink a week with an unsweetened seltzer water;
  • Take out a serving size of chips and put the bag away instead of eating straight from the bag;
  • Go to bed 10 minutes earlier every day for a month. Or set a timer to remind you to head to bed at a regular time;
  • Reduce nighttime stress by using an alarm clock instead of your phone—leave your phone in another room so you aren’t disturbed and you don’t look at it first thing in the morning;
  • Add one serving of veggies to your diet a day;
  • Drink more water by choosing a water bottle, glass, or mug that you like drinking from;
  • Add a handful of spinach or kale to a morning smoothie (see tasty recipes on my website);
  • Eat one less dessert per week or treat yourself to one amazingly fantastic dessert a week and skip the other not-so-awesome options throughout the week; and
  • Designate 5 minutes of your morning routine for stretching, yoga, or Pilates to start the day.

Find More Inspiration

These small choices won’t make a difference overnight, but they will over time—so the key is to keep going, and the only way to really sustain a habit is to find your why.

If you don’t identify a good reason to make these little changes, you’re going to “call your own bluff” and stop. So, to infuse real and long-term momentum, I recommend doing goal-setting. You can visualize your goals a variety of ways. Two helpful options:

  • If you’re a list person, you can make a list for your fridge or put sticky notes where you’re most likely to be doing or thinking about your habit.
  • If you prefer a more creative method, you could create a vision- or dream-board with pictures to help you remember why these little changes are really worth it.

Use your curiosity as a strength as you think deeply about why you want to make changes to your lifestyle. The more you feel invested in your goals and the adventure of change, the more likely you’ll stick to those small acorn-to-oak habits. (And, if you’re having trouble nailing down that why, let’s talk!)

Identify that Pesky Fear of Failure

Before we sign off, I want to highlight one sentiment that can derail the momentum of making healthy changes: fear of failure. As a health coach, I’ve seen that some never start a new good habit because of this undesirable potential. Well … I’d like to suggest a change in thinking.

We can all breathe a little easier because if and when a new habit doesn’t stick, you just might need to change your approach to make it actually work for you. It’s freeing once a client realizes that a potential dud and our subsequent collaborative brainstorming will uncover the best change, which will infuse genuine enthusiasm and long-term results.

For example, maybe you’ve been trying to work out right after work. You’ve even packed and placed your gym bag in the car, but you’re finding you have no energy at the end of the day. So, forget the idea of failure and change your approach. Try working out—at home—in the morning, and see if it sticks! (If this sounds like you, try these free online Fitness Blender workouts.) Soon, you might find you love the morning workouts. And, you feel like you have your evenings back!

As a health coach, I will walk you through these ups and downs, helping you uncover what really works for you. I also love that the proactive communication in health coaching can block long-term fear of failure from taking root in your thought process and subsequent actions. Remember, in making healthy changes, success is that you’ve kept some of these new, healthy habits and eliminated some of the not-so-good ones, as you strive for that long-term goal.

If you’re ready to make purposeful choices to feel better and more energized, give me a call.


This Month’s Suggested Reading:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Want to learn how to diagnose your habits and change them for the better? Charles explores the science of habit in this fascinating book about harnessing your day-to-day activities to produce overall success.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

“Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default.” Learn how to make conscious decisions that add up to the life you’re dreaming of.